At the end of last summer (2019), I found myself drawing apes. No real reason. Perhaps, it was because I still subscribe to the vintage notion that apes are inherently funny. Drawing a few pages of primates cavorting brought a smile to my face. (Making myself smile is the chief reason to draw.)
In September, I posted this drawing of an ape on my Flickr page. I liked the way that a few simple props could suggest a career. That led to more ape sketches with wardrobe details and props to suggest occupations. (See below.)
In November, I thought about bringing lots of different apes together...perhaps a crowded coffee shop. (See below.)
I still like this idea of a coffee shop. I might come back to it in the future with a wider range of creatures. Watch for a letterpress print based on the idea of having coffee with aliens. Meanwhile, for a jigsaw puzzle, it seemed like there ought to be a lot more characters than one can fit into a coffee shop. Dozens? Hundreds?
Memory Lane. Back when I had a real job, I flew to client meetings almost every week. I spent way too much time in airports. I was inspired to do a rough sketch with apes queueing in those long, snaky lines I remembered from countless hours in U.S. airports. (See below.)
The sketch above convinced me this could make a distinctive jigsaw puzzle. All I needed to do was draw and color 150 different apes. Get started.
Winter work. Day after day, I got to draw ape travelers and alien travelers. First in pencil and then inked with brush pens. (See below.) Each character would audition for a place in the design. Many were rejected. I scanned and colored the finalists digitally and added each to the airport scene.
Airports always seemed to have advertising posters mixed in with the travelers. So I added some posters to break up the crowds. In December, I was fooling around with a pattern based on fig newtons, so that pattern became one of the posters. (See below.) Other posters promote bananas and space travel. Of course.
This puzzle design is already an outdated anachronism. I finished the design at the end of February 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic starting inconveniencing the U.S. Just before everyone decided to stop going to airports and to wear masks outside the house. (Only one traveler in the scene is wearing a mask. See below.)
Don’t forget, jigsaw puzzles can be an amusing diversion for people trapped in their homes as plagues sweep back and forth across the land. So, I’m working on a few more designs. Designing them is a good activity for me while I’m under house arrest.
Don–Pittsburgh, July 24, 2020